Mitt Romney has defended his expensive, ineffective, coercive health care program by stating that while he had hoped each state government would do to its citizens what he did to Massachusetts, other states were ultimately free to reject his approach.
When Obama copied Romney's plan and the Democrats forced the controversial ObamneyCare health insurance scheme on all 57 states, Romney hastened to declare that his godawful plan was intended for one state and one state only:
As I have stated time and again, a one-size-fits-all national plan that raises taxes is simply not the answer. Under our federalist system, the states are “laboratories of democracy.” They should be free to experiment. By the way, what works in one state may not be the answer for another.[emphasis added]
Now Obama has undermined Romney's flimsy argument:
In a major surprise on the politically charged new health care law, the Obama administration said Friday that it would not define a single uniform set of “essential health benefits” that must be provided by insurers for tens of millions of Americans. Instead, it will allow each state to specify the benefits within broad categories.
The move would allow significant variations in benefits from state to state, much like the current differences in state Medicaid programs and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Obama's shrewd move is in perfect sync with Romney's purported values, allowing each state to experiment with crony health care statism in its own way.
Obama's community occupiers are not impressed:
The first thing you note is that this move is one more step towards Mitt Romney, who argues that RomneyCare might be fine for Massachusetts, but each state should be free to decide for itself how best to provide health coverage — or not. The White House political geniuses ... apparently think moving towards Mitt’s incoherent position will leave one less reason to vote against Mr. Obama; others might conclude it’s one less reason to vote for him.Obama's loyal minions are missing the point. This is an easily reversible move that has one very important immediate consequence: It neuters Mitt Romney:
By giving states the discretion to specify essential benefits, the Obama administration sought to deflect one of the most powerful arguments made by Republican critics of President Obama’s health care overhaul — that it was imposing a rigid, bureaucrat-controlled health system on Americans and threatening the quality of care. Opponents say that the federal government is forcing a one-size-fits-all standard for health insurance and usurping state authority to regulate the industry.[emphasis added]
The Obama administration temporarily lends some of its newly-acquired health care power to the states while stealthfully destroying Mitt Romney's weak but crucially important argument on health care reform...
That's very clever.
Update (12.18.11): Prediction...
Obama will make full use of this in his campaign.
Update II: Edited for clarity.